Wonder Woman & WWI Legends

This weekend I will join my fellow geeks in securing a ticket to catch the latest cinematic installment in the Justice League saga: Wonder Woman.

Yet I wonder if said geeks are aware of the fact that placing the origin story of DC’s heroine all the way to WWI was not just a way to avoid any possible comparisons to Captain America in the Marvel Universe. Indeed, I have the deep suspicion the writers took direct inspiration from an actual historical legend: The Angel of Mons.

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The tale of the Angel or Angels of Mons is one that got incredibly popular during the worst days of the Great War. It is situated in one of the most decisive battles of that global conflagration –the battle of Mons, in August of 1914– and it refers to the involvement of divine or supernatural beings, directly intervening in the fight to support the British troops, who suffered grave casualties at the hands of their German enemies.

While it is very likely the legend was nothing but a fabrication which got wings –pardon the pun– by way of jingoistic propaganda and the public’s need to believe Providence would not abandon them in their most desperate hour, what’s important to keep in mind is how these sort of stories managed to attain such unexpected popular impact, hence retaining enough power in order to keep influence the culture. Even Alan Moore utilized the legend of Mons in his graphic novel Promethea.

promethea5

 

And if you’ve read Jeffrey Kripal’s excellent book Mutants & Mystics, you’d know by now the line separating Fiction from Reality is often shorter than Gal Gadot’s red skirt.

So now it looks as if Hollywood will refer to the Mons legend once again, and use it as scaffolding to give the DC Universe the patina of realistic believability that is customary in contemporary works of fantasy and fiction. Only now instead of angels from Heaven, we’ll have a badass Amazon demigoddess fighting baddies with a magic lasso.

Right or wrong about my Fortean hunch, I’m pretty sure WW will be effing epic 😉

The Debate: We are REFRAMING It

Last year my friend Robbie Graham, author of Silver Screen Saucers, asked me to participate in a collection of essays he was going to collect and edit for White Crow Press, which would be titled ‘UFOs: Reframing the Debate’: An anthology in which a diverse group of voices inside and outside the UFO field would share their views and opinions on the subject, in a non-dogmatic, iconoclastic kind of way.

He had me at ‘Hello.’

It was quite the challenge to say the least. Robbie was asking the contributors for a 7,000-word essay referring to the subject in any way we wanted. To face that kind of a ‘carte-blanche’ can be quite daunting, as many bloggers and writers know fully well. Add to that the fact I have never considered myself to be a writer. I started to blog almost accidentally, progressing from a consumer and  commenter of someone else’s content, to a producer of content in my own right –as I discussed in my very first appearance in the podcast Radio Misterioso with Greg Bishop, whom I consider both a mentor as well as one of my best friends in this field.

Robbie proved to be a very magnanimous editor, which facilitated the ‘birthing’ process of the essay tremendously. He gave me plenty of time, and not having the pressure of an impossible deadline allowed me to let the disjointed ideas bumping around inside my head to coalesce into a semi-coherent form. I had been fired of my day job back then, and even though it sucked for all the obvious reasons, it actually managed to become a blessing in disguise no matter how cliched it sounds. I fully devoted myself to writing the thing, and had the chance to take long walks in order to clear my head and allow my mind to put this literary Jenga puzzle together without falling apart.

Once I finished the essay and submitted it to Robbie, I realized I also had the chance to add illustrations to the text. I’m an industrial designer by trade, but I’ve always loved drawing, and once I purchased a Samsung Galaxy tablet I’ve struggled to become a digital artist, so this was the perfect chance to both keep polishing my skills, and illustrate my essay the way I wanted it, without any risks of copyright infringements.

C for Communion

I titled this image ‘C for Communion.’ As you might have guessed –if you haven’t gotten your hands on the book already– it is a homage to both Whitley Strieber and Alan Moore. I ain’t gonna spoil it for you,, but my essay tries to portray the UFO phenomenon as a force of Anarchy, which is not as bad as it sounds if you entertain the idea that, sometimes when societies reach a level of stagnation, things need to be shaken down in order to evolve into a higher state.

But that was not the only thing I did for UFOs: Reframing the Debate. Robbie also asked me if I would be interested in designing the actual cover for the book. I had had a previous experience, doing the same for Greg’s book It Defies Language!

Greg Bishop_Book Cover_fixxored_brighter sky_flattened

Even though I still didn’t feel as secure in my technical skills to meet the possible demands of the commission, I had a very strong concept in what I wanted to achieve with this new book: To stay away AS FAR AS POSSIBLE from the typically cheesy UFO covers plaguing the New Age/Mysticism section of Amazon. I wanted to achieve something so sleek and professional-looking, even someone with ZERO interest in the subject might have a double take after looking at the cover.

I also wanted to convey, in a very graphic way, what the book meant to me: A very original and interesting way to bring a new perspective to what already is a very fuzzy and mirage-like phenomenon–hence why the saucer in the center is made of several ‘layers’ of basic hues– which is often drowned by all the myriad of opinions looking to categorize it in a very dogmatic way, be that as ‘Extraterrestrials’, ‘Hoaxes’, ‘Propaganda’, etc. Hence the ‘word background’ which I built almost as the kind of letter soup puzzles you find in the crossword section of newspapers.

Since I had already made such a good rapport with Greg when working on IDL! I decided to add him to the work group as a sort of ‘artistic consigliery‘: Everything I showed to Robbie I CC’d to Greg too. As a result, the whole project became both a delicious (and sometimes delirious!) process, with 3 guys on 3 different countries and time zones –one of them all across the Atlantic– going back and forth, making suggestions or observations to the digital maquettes I was building with my oh-so-limited tools at my disposal.

The end result made all the hardship and frustrations worth while though, and again I can’t take full credit on it since both Robbie and Greg made invaluable contributions to it –even though sometimes they made me want to throw my laptop out the window! 😉

Once it was finished, it was just a matter of letting the good people of White Crow Press to polish the rough edges of my file –I wish I could thank them personally for it– and for Robbie to finish all the hard work of editing, correcting, proof-reading and type-setting the manuscript. And then the long anxious wait until our little iconoclastic baby kicked its way out of the press womb and gave its first wails into the ear of UFOlogy, which happened last Friday, when it was officially made available at the Amazon store.

So there you have it: The inside scoop on how I became involved in what I’m hoping will be a much-commented book both in and out our little niche of weirdos obsessed with a topic 99.9% of the world doesn’t give a rat’s ass about. Maybe it will stay that way indefinitely, or maybe things will be so radically changed in our society by a variety of other disparaging processes, that people will once again look up to the sky in wonder, and realize we still have got a looong way to go before we start to solve this whole shit about Life, the Universe and Everything.

…If we ever do.

What’s the Deal with the Name, Anyway?

Ok, so maybe some of you have seen the name of this site (Absurd by Design) and are currently scratching your heads thinking ‘whaaaa?’

The name came to me a few years ago, when thinking about some of my favorite UFO/Close Encounter cases that rank at the very top of the high strangeness charts, like for example the famous Hopkinsville goblins case of the 1950’s. These are the type of cases which make both the true believers and the so-called skeptics show their true colors: While the believers will try to quietly sweep them under the rug and forget they never happened –because they don’t give any help in trying to attain the ‘legitimacy’ they’ve always dreamed of,–‘skeptics’ (or people who like to promote themselves as such) on the other hand love to point out at them as an example of how the UFO phenomenon is utter nonsense. Why? Because it doesn’t conform to the logical standards of how an alleged alien form of intelligence will conduct itself when interacting with more primitive beings.

“It is absurd, ergo it isn’t real.”

But what if both the skeptics and the true believers have it all ass-backwards? What if there’s an actual method to the apparent madness manifested in the myriad of UFO reports clogging the file cabinets of research organizations like MUFON and countless predecessors which went up in flames trying to prove we were indeed being visited by interlopers from other worlds, even though said visitors wouldn’t conform to our EXPECTATIONS on how such a first contact was supposed to take place? (“Take me to your leader” and all that crap).

Those are the kind of heretical ideas proposed by visionaries like Jacques Vallee and John Keel, who have become personal heroes of mine. Their theories have greatly influenced my personal evolution in my way of viewing this phenomenon; which is why I suspect that YES, the apparent absurdity reported in UFO cases is there BY DESIGN.

‘But why?’ might you ask, and in truth it is more than fair question. I suspect –and here in this page you will find how I’ll abstain to use terms sch as ‘know’ and ‘believe’ as much as possible, since they tend to hinder the search for truth when dealing with topics as controversial as confounding as the UFO mystery– the alleged intelligence or intelligences operating behind the UFO curtain might have concluded that theatricality and nonsensical scenarios are the most effective way to render deep knowledge in a way that bypasses the logical centers of our minds, taking root in the deep, fertile soul of the subconscious, where ideas can blosom and grow so big and potent they can eventually change the shape of the whole world.

…Or maybe I am the one who have it all wrong, and the absurdity is the product of a miscomunication between two diametrically opposite forms of sentience. Our pathetically slow attempts to teach dolphins or other animals our language may be a testament to that; if it is such an insurmountable task to communicate with a different species which was evolved in our own biosphere, imagine how that exponentially translates when dealing with beings which may come from other worlds, time lines, dimensions, or even planes of existence!

–INTERMISSION: If you haven’t seen the movie Arrival yet, shut down your computer and do it NOW!!!–

Absurdity is a potent tool. Any comedian knows that. The moment a stand-up comic manages to land a gag in its audience and they crack up, even the slightest, the comic knows they have ‘lowered’ their intellectual defenses and are now more receptive to all kinds of new information, no matter how outrageous. A similar thing happens with fear, in fact. Fear has a way of tearing down the layers of our psyche we hold dearest, and it leaves us bare and defenseless, oblivious to the typical social conventions yammered in our heads since childhood. All of the sudden we are once again children lost in the woods, afraid of the Big Bad Wolf which is coming to get us…

I suspect the UFO phenomenon either takes advantages of these characteristics of the human mind, or that being face-to-face with an undeniable Other inherently tears apart our reassuring models about how the world is supposed to be. That in fact, maybe the most important and valuable aspect to the whole UFO phenomenon: How it mercilessly shakes up and tears down our flimsy models of the Universe.

Because if we dare to accept statement (1): UFOs are real, sooner or later we will be forced to also accept statement (2): Ergo, we do not know what Reality actually is.

It’s a slippery, intellectual slope for sure. But nobody said the search for the Truth would be either easy, nor SAFE…

Quiobo!

Red_Pill_junkie

Welcome to my very own website. I’m Red Pill Junkie, your gracious provider of mind-altering, reality-twisting content.

So first, a little bit of background about me: I’ve been an active member of what I like to call the ‘Fortean blogosphere’ for the better part of 10 years –Holeee $#!t how does time fly!!– and in that period I’ve been fortunate enough to participate and collaborate in a number of awesome sites, namely The Daily Grail, Mysterious Universe, The Grimerica Show, The Intrepid Magazine blog and a few others.

What’s funny is that during all this time it never actually occurred to, ya know, have my own site! The reasons for this are varied, my natural procrastinating disposition being among the more influential ones…

But I guess the main reason is that I’ve always feared to make this simple albeit terrifying first step. I’ve always been a perfectionist, and as anyone who considers to be one knows fully well, it is a double edge sword –a valuable asset which can devolve into a terrible flaw, if you don’t keep it in check. As such, I always thought I would never be able to create a website that would live up to my impossibly high standards.

But now I’m forced to finally, blissfully acknowledge neither this nor ANY website will ever be the most awesome, sleek, or innovative page I always dreamed of. At the end of the day, though, a crummy online presence is better than NO presence at all, right?

I’m also not 100% sure what the hell I’m going to do with this site, either. At first I thought I would use it as a platform for an online store of t-shirts or something, and although I haven’t given up on that concept entirely, at present I’m thinking that Absurd by Design will be my main hub of online activity; the place where I’ll link on the other stuff I do around the Interwebz.

Where I go from there, not know yet, but it looks like a path with heart, and I hope you’re willing to join me in it 🙂